The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (July 1)

By The Irrawaddy 1 July 2017

India Hands Over Cargo Ships

India this week handed over six cargo vessels to Myanmar to support the Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project, a bilateral project that will connect the two countries via a water route from Rakhine State’s Sittwe to Paletwa in Chin State and a road from Paletwa to Zorinpui in Mizzoram State, India.

The ships were built in Dala, Dagon Seikan and Dawbon dockyards in Myanmar’s Inland Waterways Transport at a cost of US$89 million, according to a statement by the Indian embassy in Yangon.

The vessels are 45 meters long and 9.5 meters wide and have a cargo capacity of 300 tons.

Work is continuing on the Kaladan project at Sittwe and Paletwa ports.

IFC Invests in Microfinance

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has committed a financing package of $13.5 million for Myanmar-based microfinance institutions.

The package includes a $1.5 million stake in Maha Agriculture Public Company and $6 million in loans each to Fullerton Finance (Myanmar) Company, in which the IFC already holds a 15 percent stake, and Early Dawn Microfinance Company.

The move is intended to support microfinance businesses to engage the largely untapped rural, low income market segment.

Demand for microcredit for small enterprises and poor households underserved by mainstream banks is estimated to exceed supply by three-fold, according to an IFC statement.

“Improving access to microfinance will help unlock the great potential of the rural sector and small enterprises by providing much needed financing to increase productivity and create jobs, incomes and prosperity for a significant number of workers in this country,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC country manager for Myanmar.

The deals “fit with a strategic IFC focus in Myanmar to develop a sustainable and responsible commercial microfinance sector to serve urban and rural poor,’’ the statement said.

It added that the IFC is mitigating lending risks through development of a central credit bureau, expected to be launched later this year following the issuance of a landmark IFC-supported credit reporting regulation in March.

“Going forward, IFC will introduce responsible business practices to microfinance institutions and promote financial-consumer protection through knowledge transfer activities with regulators and industry players,’’ according to the statement.

The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group. It conducts investments that are intended to “leverage the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity.’’

Investment Firm Looks at Expansion

Private equity firm Delta Capital is close to finalizing another $50 million in investments after its first round raised the same amount, the company’s founder and managing partner Nick Powell told DealStreet Asia.

By November it expects to have raised $150 million in total since the firm was founded in 2013 in Myanmar.

In the first round the firm invested in oil and gas, alcoholic beverage manufacturing, an internet service provider, a local business conglomerate and a domestic bottle manufacturer. For the second round the firm is looking to close investments in the consumer and ICT sectors.

Powell founded Delta Capital as a partnership between Hong Kong-based assets management company, SMC Capital and Serge Pun & Associates.

The fund-raising for the second fund has garnered interest from European family offices and wealthy Asian families, according to the report. The firm is also seeking to be the first Myanmar-focused private equity fund to get investments from Development Finance Institutions (DFIs).

Rubber Plant Mooted for Mon State

Plans for a rubber manufacturing plant in Mon State have been discussed by Ministry of Industry and Thaton Township officials, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

The plan was discussed at the annual general meeting of the Thaton Township Rubber Planters and Producers Association on 23 June, according to the report.

Association Chairman Dr. Than Myo said the project is needed because of high level of international demand for high-quality rubber, while Myanmar has struggled to produce a quality product.

Most of Myanmar’s rubber producers are small holder farmers using traditional farming methods.

Thaton Township is a rubber-growing hub with 40,000 acres under cultivation, although only half of that acreage produces rubber of sufficient quality for export to China, India, South Korea and Japan.

Myanmar has more than 1.6 million acres of rubber plantations and rubber latex is produced by over 700,000 acres of rubber land, according to the report. It added that most of Myanmar’s rubber goes to China through cross-border trade stations, while other countries receive shipments by sea.

Trade With India on the Rise

Myanmar’s trade with India grew by 6 percent from 2015 to 2016 to the same period the following year, according to a report.

The figure was given by India’s minister of Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, at the 6th Joint Trade Committee Meeting between India and Myanmar this week.

Myanmar’s exports to India were $1.06 billion in 2016 to 2017, a growth of 8.43 percent over the previous year.

Imports from India were $1.11 billion, up by 3.79 percent.

Sitharaman told media that the bilateral trade potential between the two countries remains untapped and she sought Myanmar’s cooperation in actively pursuing enhanced road, sea and air connectivity between the two countries.

She urged Myanmar to expedite work on the Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project in Rakhine State and to speed up completion of work on the waterway linking the port of Sittwe with the interior.